The risks of snoring

Anyone can snore, particularly with a cold, nasal polyps, a nasal infection or enlarged adenoids, but it seems to be particularly linked to obesity, aging, alcohol, smoking, lying on your back, and men more so than women.

Snoring several times a night and several times a week is not a healthy way to breathe during sleep and it is linked to serious health issues, such as hypertension, heart and chest disease, rheumatism, diabetes and depression.

The most immediate risk from snoring however is the jab in the ribs, or kick in the shins from the person you are sleeping with. Many snorers have to sleep alone because they are so loud. And sometimes the risk is not only sleeping in the spare bedroom, but even divorce or eviction by housemates is considered because the loud snorer so badly disturbs the sleep of those around them.

Does snoring cause health problems or do the health problems cause snoring?
Whether snoring actually causes the health problem, or vice versa is not always clear. Something that blocks your nose, like having a cold, will cause the hyperventilation that results in snoring. But once your breathing centre in the brain has adapted to a new breathing pattern that involves moving more air in and out of the lungs each minute than it did before, then it will maintain this new pattern.

This means that even when the cold has disappeared, you probably breathe a little bit more air each minute than before you got the cold, and so a smaller trigger will make you snore.

For example, before you got the cold you might have needed to drink five scotches before you started snoring. But after the cold, it might only take four to cause you to be jabbed in the ribs several times during the night.